Toronto – day five

And now we’re home again.

We got to sleep in this morning and we even had a little extra time to explore our hotel and have some lunch.

I loved the Fairmont Royal York so much. My only regret is that we didn’t have more time to get it know it better.

The hotel was initially built beginning in 1928 and opened on June 11th, 1929. At the time it was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth.

For a hotel that old, they’ve done an amazing job of balancing the original designs with renovations and restorations.

I’d deliberately put off reading about the hauntings throughout the hotel until this morning because I didn’t want to freak Kevin (and maybe me) out. There seem to be three established hauntings in the building. One is a former porter who worked at the hotel and hung himself, another is a man wearing purple and wandering the halls. The third is children heard laughing and running up and down the halls. Obviously, we didn’t seen any evidence of the hauntings, but we did get to check many of the grand old rooms throughout the large property.

The second photo is from inside the Concert Hall. I walked in and it was dark, then after standing still in awe of its beauty for 15-20 seconds, the lights came on. The photo doesn’t do justice to just how gorgeous a room it is to be in. I can just imagine it’s much more splendid during an event.

One place that I insisted we take a look at before we leave was the Library Bar, for obvious reasons. It was our final stop and while we still had about thirty minutes before we had to leave, Kevin convinced me we should have a bite to eat while we were there.

The staff there were so great once they knew our time constraints. Everyone works too get us fed and out the door on time – and it was a success!

In a reversal of our arrival on Friday morning, we took the UP train back to the airport and were on our way back home without a hitch.

As always, coming home is bittersweet. I am pretty miserable about it, but I was at least a little bit happy that we got to see the cats.

Toronto – day five

Tonight marked the thirteenth hour we spent watching wrestling over the last four days. I’d had qualms about whether I’d be able to do it, but when I was asked if I was tired of it on the way to the arena tonight, I had to say that I wasn’t. In fact, I have to say that it’s been one of the greatest sports experiences of my life.

We spent the early part of the day on the road to and from Kevin’s old stomping grounds, visiting family and loved ones. Every time we go there, I can’t help but think of how happy I could be living in a place like it. it’s so beautiful and spacious and so full of life.

I’m going to have more to share about today, but we got back to our room late and I’ve got a headache from not drinking enough water.

Toronto – day four

Day four focused on just two events:

  1. A taping of The Social
  2. Monday Night Raw

I’m a big fan of The Social. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a Canadian daytime tv talk show. There are four main hosts plus one regular fill-in/correspondent. Each show begins with a round table about 4-5 current events or stories and then usually two segments that feature lifestyle stories, cooking, fashion, beauty, wellness and other topics.

I’ve been a fan for the last several years and have been saying I’d like to go to a taping the next time I was in Toronto. Once we knew we were coming this month, we investigated and set a calendar alarm for the day when we’d be able to try to reserve tickets during our stay.

This morning, we woke up, got spiffed up and once kevin was finished his Monday conference call, we took a cab over to 299 Queen Street West, an address you may remember from the Much Music days.

I’m going to write a post exclusively covering the experience in the future, but for now I’ll just say that it was a lot of fun and even better than I had ever imagined it would be. The topics were great, the hosts were lovely and it was so exciting to be able to see the set I’ve seen hundreds of times on tv.

The taping is live and it’s an hour long show so the set up and the finish take a little extra time. All in all, we were there for about 2.5 hours.

When we were done, we decided to stop for some lunch and then head back to our hotel for a little downtime. This has been a fantastic, but also busy trip.

We had about 90 minutes in our room before we had to get ready to go back to Scotiabank Arena for the third night in a row, this time for Monday Night Raw.

A pay per view is one kind of event, but the fallout on the tv days after can sometimes be even more exciting. In some cases, that was true tonight (Sasha Banks) and in others it was the same old, same old (The Viking Raiders.)

I’m also going to write exclusively about Summer Slam week someday. For today, I need to get some sleep. We’ve got one more full day of adventure to pack in here and I don’t want to miss more of it than I have to.

Night, y’all.

Toronto – day three

I left off yesterday’s recap before we’d actually been to our final destination. It was late and I had a suspicion that we wouldn’t get out of the show until after midnight so I’d miss a day of posting. Turns out, I was right and it was already 1am before we rolled in the door.

After we finished up at NXT Takeover, we headed over to The Rec Room to see a comedy show by Dolph Ziggler and friends. We struggled to find a place to stand (we certainly weren’t finding a place to sit because it was so packed) and ended up at the far end of the hall. Little did we know, we were right at the entrance from the green room to the stage. For the majority of the night, I had wrestlers and comics brushing past me, some of them literally rubbing elbows with me.

The show was good and fun. We got to see some of Dolph’s stand up routine, but much of it turned into a roast due to the casual nature of the friends influence on the show. It was rewarding to watch because it allowed those of us who were there an opportunity to see some of the wrestlers we watch on tv in a more natural setting, outside is the character they play on the shows.

As I mentioned, we got home late and went to sleep even later. We didn’t have too early a call this morning, but we did have to be across town for 11am. We stayed in bed a littler longer than planned so we took a cab over to Bloorcourt Village and The Hogtown Vegan.

We were headed over there for a few reasons. 1. To see our friend Katelyn, 2. To try this restaurant and 3. To visit the Bibliomat at Monkey’s Paw.

We got over there just a few minutes later than planned and dug right into brunch. The place is a little dive-y, but the staff were super friendly and helpful with the menu. I was so torn between two things and our waiter was able to work it out so that I could try both without ordering two meals which is what I’d originally planned. I got their French Toast Sliders with a side of Chili Cheese Fries. Kevin got the Southern Combo – fried (un)chicken, garlic collard greens, mac and cheese and bbq sauce – and Katelyn got the Tofu Rancheros with collard greens.

I liked the chili cheese fries more than I liked the sliders. They were advertised as: Two pieces of cinnamon-battered toast filled with peanut butter, banana, and tofu bacon. Served with chef salad or homefries. Fascinating, right? Well, they either fell a little short in the translation or I’m just not that into that kind of rich, sweet food anymore. It might be the latter, but who knows.

Everybody liked their meals just fine and I would probably recommend it to someone who was in the neighbourhood.

After we left there, we went in search of The Monkey’s Paw. This is the bookstore I’ve been talking about wanting to go to for months and years. One, it’s a vintage bookstore. Two, it’s the home of the Bibliomat, a vintage book dispenser!

We took a few minutes looking around the store and then we went in for the book dispenser fun. The machine only takes tokens that are purchased from the store. Once you get your token, you put it in the machine and after a bunch of bells and whistles, out pops your book! Katelyn got a book on the history or Canada. I got a book of dramatic poetry. We both got a little thrill.

We continued down the street to prolong our visit a little and to see what we could see.

Eventually, we came across the Bloor and Gladstone branch of the Toronto Library.

The building was originally opened in 1912 and was renovated and received an add-on more recently. Walking through, it was nice to see the blend of the historic and the new.

By the time we wandered out of there, it was time to head back to our hotel to get a little nap in before we headed to Summer Slam tonight.

We said goodbye and promised we’d see each other again soon. (We hadn’t all been together for nearly seven years, back when she was living in Victoria.)

Nap time came and went and we were ready to leave for Scotiabank Arena at around 4:45. (Doors were opening at 5pm.)

We arrived to a ridiculously large crowd awaiting the opening of the doors. it was hard to imagine how it would all be managed, but the staff working there did an absolutely outstanding job of getting everybody in quickly and securely.

We went straight down to our suite to await the arrival of our friend Julie. She got there shortly after we did, but not before we had a visit from the Street Profits, NXT tag team champs. She just missed those guys, but after she showed up, we had some of the hot food we’d ordered for the night before heading to our seats.

I’ve always said I wanted to be one of the fans just going crazy on tv. It always makes me happy to see people getting totally immersed in the events and I wanted to feel that. I’m excited to say that tonight was probably the closest I’ve ever come to feeling that. It was such a great time to just go with it. We were all booing and cheering and chanting. It was great. And you might have seen us on tv.

Match-wise, I wasn’t really happy with anything that went down during the event, but I had a great time while we were there.

We’ll be back there tomorrow for Raw and on Tuesday for Smackdown. It’s going to be great to see the fallout from today’s events and I’m hoping to keep up the crazy Dan spirit. Watch for me.

Toronto – day two

Even after a good night’s sleep, we weren’t really jumping out of bed this morning. It took a couple of alarms and an AM engagement to get us moving. I had a bit of a sore throat that I attribute to all the air conditioning and canned air. Fingers crossed.

Finally, after showering and prepping (I even put on makeup), we walked back over to the WWE Fan Expo/Super Store for our date with my favourite superstar, Lacey Evans.

I was pretty nervous about this. I wasn’t sure I’d like it. I knew she’d call me a nasty and I didn’t know what I’d say back. As it turned out, we were the last ones to see her before the end of her session and she was really great. She plays up her character perfectly, but you can see that she is a sweet, smart and damn strong woman underneath all that. She asked where we were from and what we were doing there. She made us use hand sanitizer before we got up close to her and she signed some photos for us. It was pretty fun.

Since we had two photos and decided to do them together, we weren’t sure what to do with the second one. I suggested she give Kevin her patterned Woman’s Right and she agreed!

From there, we decided to hit up the breakfast place back at our hotel.

After our meal, we went for a wander around town, looking at different shops and sights. I was looking for some echinacea just in case it wasn’t just irritation and I’d actually caught some kind of bug in our travels. I found some along the way. We also found Sweetery, Toronto’s Sweets Festival. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for pretty looking doughnuts and it got the best of me again today.

I present to you, the Cookie Monster from All You Knead bakery.

That’s a cookie dough filled doughnut right there. It was good, but after six months away from sugar, I have to admit that I’m just not that into I anymore.

We had made a lunch date with Kevin’s cousin Dean so we had to go back over to near where our hotel is to meet him. We ate at Jack Astor’s and then took him over to the WWE Super Store to show him all the belts. Somewhere along the way, we were able to convince him to join us for some wrestling and come to NXT Takeover tonight.

In another incredible I can’t believe this happens to us turn of events, we inherited seats in row two on the floor for tonight’s action! Somebody had them, then decided they didn’t want to go so they gave them to us. We spent the first half of the show in our original seats and then the second half on the floor.



We had a great time all night. It’s such a fun way to immerse yourself in something totally unreal and just have some fun.

Our final stop of the night is a comedy show featuring – you guessed it – another wrestler, Dolph Ziggler. I’m a big fan of his in the ring and I’ll just bet he’s hilarious. Since we’ll be hopping over to that event right after NXT and he isn’t scheduled to be done until after midnight, I’ll have to sign off on this post and report back about it tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Toronto – day one

We took the red eye from Vancouver last night and landed in Toronto at 5:33 or some other ridiculous time this morning. When we finally got to stretch our bodies and walk around a little, the excitement of our arrival was enough to wake us up.

We skipped more traditional options of cabs or ride shares and took the Union Pearson Express train downtown to Union Station. Kevin has taken it once before so he led the way. It was super convenient to book our tickets through their app and to get on board. About twenty minutes later, we arrived at our destination, grabbed our luggage and hopped off.

You’ll recall that I had a to do list list while we were in Toronto and one of the things on that list was to have a Citro Booster from Balzacs Coffee. This is an all natural version of a neo citran – lemon, ginger, cayenne, honey – and it is so delicious. I had one when we were here back in maybe 2013 and I’ve dreamt of them ever since. Well, just imagine my excitement when the first business I saw in this city was Balzacs UP Express! We were starting to deflate a little so it was a good chance to sit down and get some nourishment. Kev had a coffee and a breakfast sandwich, I had my precious nectar and an equally incredible chia pudding made by Feast.

From there, we headed over to our hotel because we were going to drop our bags at the bell desk. As we rolled up to the front door, a valet offered to take our bags and store them for us. He also encouraged us to go to the front desk to see if they could get us a room. To be honest, we were so obnoxiously early for the 4pm check in time that we weren’t even going to ask.

We approached the quiet front desk and Fairmont Royal York (should be) employee of the month, Kavin, got us all set up with the first room to be cleaned and promised that we’d be able to stay in the same room (we had two different reservations.) He also gave us key card access to the pool so we could hang out there while we waited. We grabbed our swimsuits from our suitcases and headed to the health club floor.

We swam, we hung out, we got very sleepy.

Once we got dried off and back into our clothes, we went and hung out in the lobby.

When we’d first showed up, it was really quiet in the hotel, but by 9:30, the place was starting to buzz.

We got our room a little while later and immediately settled in for a nap.

By just after 1:30, we were refreshed and ready to explore. We hit the road and walked a few blocks over to the convention centre to check out the WWE Super Store that just opened this morning.

We got there and it was so much fun. It wasn’t anything more than exactly what was promised – a mega shop full of wrestling merchandise, but that was all we needed. We wandered around for about an hour and each chose two shirts to take home with us.

By then, we were hungry so we talked about heading to Real Sports for something to eat. We got there only to find out that it’s closed for renovations. We backtracked about a block and went to a place Kevin has been to a few times and really enjoyed, e11even. It was nice to sit down and eat something really good. It felt like an official kick off to our vacation.

I had one of their specialties, the sweet potato taquitos and they were DELICIOUS. I’d broken a few of the nutritional rules we’ve been living by, but I’d already had it in my plans that I was going to loosen up on the restrictions while we were here. So I did – and I had no regrets.

When we left the restaurant, we walked over to the Real Sports store at Scotiabank Arena and made a stop at Sport Chek to nose around in there.

We headed back to the hotel intending to take a break and go out again tonight, but once we were in our room, we decided to call it a night to properly rest and prepare for the busy days ahead while also trying to get on board with the time change.

Countdown to Toronto is ON

We’re just 22 days away from the outset of our trip to Toronto. Mostly when we go to Ontario, it’s to visit Kevin’s hometown, but this time we’ll be almost solely focused on The 6.

I asked you back in April for your Toronto recommendations and I got a few really good suggestions. Now we’re really ready to start planning our time in the city.

At this time, we’ve got the following plans confirmed:

  • A taping of The Social
  • Four nights at Summer Slam (NXT Takeover, Summer Slam, Raw, Smackdown)
  • A Blue Jays game (this is still a maybe)

We also have a few things on our hope to do list. They are:

  • Visit one location of the Toronto Public Library
  • Go to Balzacs to have a Citro-Booster
  • Have a book dispensed at the Biblio-Mat in Monkey’s Paw Books
  • Try an ice cream taco from Booyah!

We’re there for five full days and hope to pack as much as we can into the trip.

What would you do if you were visiting Toronto?

Destination: Toronto

The big news for us this week was the solidifying is holiday plans later this year.

Late spring and early summer are largely occupied by lacrosse so travel is basically a no go throughout that time. Since the festivities are already underway and the season starts in just a few weeks, were going to be hanging around town for a while with no opportunity for escape. I’d thought of doing the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, but it coincides with A game day so it’s probably not going to happen.

We do, however, have a vacation planned in there even though we rarely go away during the summer months. The vast majority of our travel happens in the fall and winter when we can often go weeks, sometimes months without a long string of consecutive days at home.

So, a summer vacation is a rarity and so is spending time in Toronto. Most of the times when we’ve gone back east, we’ve stayed in Six Nations primarily and then moved about from there. We’ve made quick trips to Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Buffalo and even Detroit. This time, it’ll be the opposite. We’ll be in Toronto for the duration of our trip, though we’re contemplating a quick trip out to see Kevin’s dad. Maybe.

There are a couple of things I want to eat and drink while in Toronto, but I don’t have a huge laundry list of things I want to do or places o want to see. Do you?

Send me your recommendations for Toronto travel. What are the must sees and why?

Why does hotel shopping have to be so hard?

To begin with, I’m not a fan of shopping in general. I have given serious thought to hiring a personal shopper and have resorted to having a monthly alert in my phone that says “BUY TWO ITEMS OF CLOTHING.” If I didn’t have that in there, I wouldn’t do it. Because, above. I just do not like it.

The arrival of the internet brought with it one of my favourite luxuries – an online alternative. Hurrah! I have some mixed feelings about it (doesn’t support local business, environmental impact, etc), but all in all, it works for me and it keeps me clothed. I like that.

When it comes to shopping, I have very clear needs and wants and little interest in bargaining for whatever that may be. Do I like a good deal? Sure. But do I value my money more than my time? In most cases, no. I have a friend at work who loves Winners. He raves about it. Me, I can’t stand even setting foot in the place. I don’t want to have to work for my purchases no matter how much money I save. It just isn’t my jam.

Today, I was trying to find some hotel for a trip we’re planning in August. Do you have any idea how many knock-off travel sites there are?!? It’s about a trillion. And that got pretty frustrating pretty fast. Where one site showed a hotel at one price, another showed it at $50 cheaper. Until thirty minutes later when they were the same. I just wanted a nice hotel at a decent price and to call it a done deal. At one point, I felt so much frustration of having to flip back and forth between sites and verifying prices and locations and amenities and ARGH.

It reminded me of something someone told me today. He said that people used to go to Arizona to go see spring training because it was cheap and fun. Now, he said, tickets to spring training games are going for $50 or more. It takes the fun right out of a formerly spontaneous and whimsical vacation opportunity.

That’s how I felt about the travel sites. They’ve sucked the fun out of vacation planning because there’s too many of them and greed has overtaken the market.

Thankfully, I was diligent in my pursuit and I saw it through. I managed to book four nights at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto for a ridiculously good price and I’m super excited about it. It’s an old CP Rail hotel that first opened in 1929 and I can’t wait to visit!